Episodic Costs of Health Care


Posted by: Steve Uslabar, Strategic Risk Advisor

As a health insurance professional, I talk a lot about chronic disease (let’s say them together: “Diabetes, Heart Disease, Lung Cancer, Asthma…”). But are we missing an opportunity to talk to our employees about episodic injuries and general safety while away from work?

Consider that a quarter of all medical costs are episodic in nature. Some are wonderful, like the birth of my son. But what about the time I was shoveling, wearing slippers and no hat, when I slipped and broke my wrist? Was it avoidable? Could it be that we all still need our mothers telling us to be careful every time we leave the room, house, or office?

I hypothesize that health promotion can be extended to general safety outside of work and will improve on some outliers to lessen medical costs.

Here are some areas you can talk about to impact episodic health care costs, which I call “Everyday Safety!”

1. Falls – This is especially important with winter, snow, and ice on the way. Encourage your employees to watch their footing.

2. Cuts – Don’t cut toward yourself with a sharp knife or force a dull one.

3. Fire – Do your employees have fire extinguishers in their homes? Have they checked the batteries in their smoke alarms recently?

4. Burns – Burns to the hands are a leading cause for emergency room visits. Talk about the proper use of stoves, ovens, irons, and hair styling tools.

5. Choking – Be sure to cut food into bite-sized pieces for children and the elderly. Does everyone know the right way to do the Heimlich?

6. Food Safety and Food Borne Illness – Estimates vary, but it’s widely accepted that home cooking accounts for 80% of all food borne illness due to cross contamination. In addition, the temperature danger zone is 40 to 140degrees Fahrenheit; food between these temperatures is the ideal environment for bacteria that cause food poisoning. Be sure to throw out food if the integrity is compromised.

7. Drinking – It’s not a secret that many of us have a fondness for a few adult beverages, but you should avoid using machinery and risky behavior when drinking. Crazy things happen. Never drink and drive!

8. Driving – The numbers are daunting: there are 6,000,000 car accidents in America, resulting in 3,000,000 injuries and 40,000 deaths each year. Teach your employees how to be safe drivers.
These are just a few of millions of ideas about how to be a safer individual, and many leading experts insist many unsafe conditions can be avoided if you are vigilant. 25% is a lot of health care dollars. If your parents or grandparents would warn you about it, maybe you should mention it to your staff.